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Positive Energies: social inclusion of children with disabilities. A talk with parents, teachers and photographers

17 May — 6:30 am

Thursday 17 May 2018                                                    6:30pm

The Swedenborg Society
20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter St)
London WC1A 2TH

For a PDF map of the venue please click here

Free – booking recommended
Book online here

In recent years, a range of prenatal screening tests has become widely available and many women now choose to have these tests. When the investigations reveal foetal abnormalities, pregnant women and their families have to face the difficult decision of whether or not to continue the pregnancy. In the UK, over 90% of parents told that their unborn child has Down’s syndrome choose to have a termination.

The decision in the UK to offer women with a higher risk of a Down’s baby a new safer, non-invasive, test from this year, has sparked much debate. This has brought to the fore ethical questions about policies which seem to devalue people who live with disability or which imply criticism of women who choose to continue a pregnancy, despite test results indicating abnormality. In February, the General Synod of the Church of England passed a motion calling on the government to ensure that parents who have been told their unborn child has Down’s syndrome will be given “comprehensive, unbiased information” regarding the condition.

‘Positive Energies’, an exhibition of the work of Japanese and British photographers, opens on 16 May 2018 at the Gallery@oxo in London. It presents images by Fumio Nabata, Fiona Yaron-Field and Richard Bailey that challenge pre-conceived ideas about people with Down’s syndrome. Japan Society is pleased to hold this discussion to celebrate and focus more closely on issues raised by the exhibition. We hope this event with speakers from a range of backgrounds will provide an opportunity to explore attitudes and perspectives on Down’s and other children with disability, in Japan and the UK.

In the first half of the evening, we will reflect on bringing up children with disability, their education and questions relating to prenatal diagnosis with three speakers: Yumiko Little, a Japanese parent raising a child with disability in the UK, who will discuss, through her experiences with her son, the importance of children’s hospices; Cathy Darvell, a British teacher who organised a Japan-UK school exchange project involving children with special needs; and Kazuhiro Takemura, director for international relations at the Japan Down Syndrome Society and father of a child with Down’s syndrome, who will examine the concept of ‘Smart Inclusion’.
It will be followed in the second part by a talk by photographers Fumio Nabata, Richard Bailey and Fiona Yaron-Field who will discuss about their work and the exhibition ‘Positive Energies’. The evening will conclude with a Q&A panel session with all the speakers.

Yumiko Little spent thirteen years in Tokyo, recording dance and ballet performances as a stage photographer. At this time, having an abiding interest in the spiritual world of the Celts, she presented examples of her work which explore this theme, in such exhibitions as ‘The Country of Shi’ and ‘The Visible and Invisible’. Yumiko moved to Yorkshire with her husband and bore a special needs son in 2013. This changed her perspective: she came to realise the fundamental importance of conveying a message through her photography. Recently, she has had published in the news magazine ‘AERA’ photographic articles about disability and children’s hospices in Britain.
Cathy Darvell has worked for many years with children and young adults with learning disabilities. Students at Heritage House School had severe and profound intellectual disabilities as well as physical and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. These young people faced many challenges but increasing their life experiences and supporting them to access education and move on to meaningful lives in the community was central to the ethos and practice at the school. For a number of years, Heritage House enjoyed a link with a similar school in Kyoto. Today Cathy will talk about her personal experiences of taking students with disabilities to Japan and welcoming Japanese students to the UK. She will focus on the similarities, differences, strengths and challenges in UK and Japanese special education, social attitudes and opportunities for employment and community participation for students with intellectual disabilities at school and as adults.
Kazuhiro Takemura graduated in English & American Literature at Rikkyo (St.Paul’s) University. In 2016 he founded the ‘Smart Inclusion Research Group’ with Norio Murakami, then former executive vice-president of Google America. Kazuhiro is now the Representative and Head Secretary of the group and teaches at the Business Breakthrough University. He is also a former chief for international relations at the Japan Down Syndrome Society and has published several books on this topic.
Fumio Nabata is a photographer based in Osaka. He is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers’ Society, Japan Advertising Photographers’ Association and Japan Down Syndrome Society. Fumio was the winner of the Grand-prize by the Minister of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2009 and has received the Japan Advertising Photographers’ Association APA Award on seven occasions. The main theme of his work is the feeling of happiness in people when they have and raise children. In 2011 his solo exhibition Be Loved: The Joy of Children in Japan was shown in New York, Tokyo and Osaka.
More information on www.fumionabata.com
Richard Bailey is a London based photographer who specialises in people and animals. He has worked as a professional photographer for over twenty years and has received numerous awards for his photographic work. For the last ten years, Richard has also been curating the project Shifting Perspectives, an internationally touring photographic exhibition concerned with all aspects of Down’s syndrome.
More information on www.richardbaileyphotography.
Fiona Yaron-Field is a British artist using photography for over 25 years. She has participated in symposiums, publications and exhibitions including; Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, Portrait of Britain, BJP, NOA, Peckham 24 Photofestival, Shifting Perspectives,Brighton Photo Biennial. Author of ‘Up Close,a Mother’s View’ (Bunker Hill Publishing)a book which describes, through image and text, her relationship with her daughter Ophir who has Down’s Syndrome. One of the founders and co-editors of ‘Uncertain States’ a contemporary photography platform. Her work suggests that through deeply personal material we can transcend our own story to comment and reflect on wider social and cultural issues.
More information on www.fionayaronfield.co.uk

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email events@japansociety.org.uk or submit the online booking form.



17 May
6:30 am - 9:00 pm
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